Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin, accompanied by other members of the Democratic Governors Association, speaks outside the White House after their meeting Friday with President Barack Obama.
WASHINGTON — Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin and other Democratic governors met Friday with President Barack Obama and said afterward that state economies would be hurt by looming cuts in the federal budget.
Shumlin, chairman of the Democratic Governors Association, said states have seen increased employment, but their prosperity is being hindered by “the games being played by the Republicans in Congress.”
Obama, intensifying pressure on congressional Republicans, said Friday that lawmakers still have “the opportunity to make the right decisions” and avert a series of mandatory budget cuts by March 1.
Despite little sign of a deal emerging with Republicans, Obama said he does not believe it is inevitable that the $85 billion in across-the-board budget cuts will take effect. He said finding a way to avert the cuts should be a “no-brainer” for congressional lawmakers.
After the governors’ meeting with the president, Shumlin told Politico.com’s State Solutions Conference: “The one thing that stands in our way of prosperity, of job creation, right now, is this Congress, which refuses to work with the president.”
He added, “We have a Congress that is holding American prosperity hostage right now; we have Republican governors who are passing the tax policies they can’t get past a Democratic (Senate) and a Democratic president.”
The most immediate threat to economic progress, Shumlin said, was the sequester, which would cut $1.2 trillion in domestic and defense spending if it goes into effect on March 1. He said the sequester would result in layoffs for Vermont firefighters and police officers.
The Vermont governor also endorsed universal background checks and restrictions on the size of ammunition clips. But he wasn’t willing to back an assault weapons ban.
“It all depends on how city boys define an assault weapon,” he told Politico.com, adding that he would want to ban “weapons of war.”
The fight between Obama and congressional Republicans has centered on a seemingly intractable issue: Obama says he wants a more methodical and restrained plan for budget-cutting and one that would necessitate an additional tax increase.
GOP lawmakers and their leaders, House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, and Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, for the most part have come together to oppose any new revenue measures.
The Associated Press and Politico.com contributed to this report.
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